Feature: China consumes more children's books
BEIJING, Aug. 26 (Xinhua) -- Twilight Sparkle, Peppa Pig and the Smurfs are famed illustrations that can be found at the 25th Beijing International Book Fair (BIBF), which has placed children's books in a central position.
The book fair, which concludes Sunday, has over 2,500 exhibitors and more than 300,000 titles on display this year. Children's publications, especially picture books, are one of the most attractive categories for both visitors and publishers, as China is a growing children books consumer as well as exporter.
Li Jia, 35, bought four picture books for her daughter. "The eye-catching picture books help us know her interests and what is really suitable for her," she said.
At the BIBF, now the world's second largest international book fair, many overseas exhibitors featured a range of children's reading materials, mostly picture books, hoping to achieve or expand cooperation with their Chinese counterparts on copyright trading.
Highlights, an American publisher famous for its children magazines, participated the BIBF for its 10th year. Despite a small booth, its educational and colorful children's publications were viewed by many visitors.
"Beside Chinese publishers, we also cooperate more with Chinese online educational institutions, which develop English education apps or other products with our publications," said Chen Ming, in charge of Highlights' Chinese business.
"Kada Story" is one of such institutions. It offers an app providing hundreds of audio picture books for children at about three yuan (40 U.S. cents) each on average. "We have accumulated more than 8 million users within two years," said Qi Mengying, the company's product manager.
Yani Kurniawan, literary promotion and publishing rights coordinator with the Indonesia National Book Committee, also sees opportunities. Children's books are the best sellers among more than 300 titles brought to the fair by the organization, which has participated in the BIBF three-years running.
"China is one of world's biggest markets [for books] and with the one-child policy dropped by the government, we see the opening of a new market," said Kurniawan while showing picture books at their booth.
In 2016, the children's books market in China grew by over 28 percent year on year. Children's books have been a main growth driver for China's book market as more parents are willing to pay for high-quality books for a better education.
In an area called "Beijing International Children's Book Fair" at the BIBF, visitors were surrounded by various pop-up books and other fancy hardcover picture books, many of which were imported from the Uniteds States, the United Kingdom and France. Such books are priced from dozens to over 100 yuan.
"Picture books are suitable for children to know about the world and develop the habit of reading," said a visitor named Li Xiaoyun, who works for a Beijing-based education institution.
"Children's picture books are becoming increasingly popular and demanded by more parents," said Chen Xi, director of International Affairs Department of Zhejiang Juvenile and Children's Publishing House, a Chinese copyright purchaser of Peppa Pig and My Little Pony.
"We also found that more parents in big cities are interested in original English children's books, so with copyrights imported, we have more publishing plans for books in both Chinese and English versions to meet demand," she said.
With scores of copyrights imported, China is also sending more of own its high-quality children's books copyrights to the rest of the world, under strengthened cooperation and cultural exchange with other countries.
Jieli Publishing House, a famous publisher targeting children, has seen an ever-growing volume of exports. Its booth at the fair displayed dozens of Chinese children's books in different themes and languages.
"We have output copyrights of more than 400 titles, mainly children's books such as picture books and children's literature, to over 20 countries and regions, including the United States, Japan, Germany, Sweden and Vietnam," said Zhao Xuejie, a manager of its foreign rights department.
The publisher has also set up a branch in Egypt, which published 26 books by Chinese authors in Arab states last year. "Children's picture books are the most popular, since the fascinating pictures and simple words make them easier to understand despite cultural differences," Zhao said.
Bai Bing, Jieli's chief editor, said: "The government has offered us various support, such as funding for translation and promoting channels, under the Belt and Road Initiative."
With copyright trading a main target, the 2018 BIBF attracted publishers from 93 countries and regions, among which 24 are countries along the Belt and Road.
"The exported copyrights help the rest of the world know better about what China's children's books are like and, furthermore, what China is like," said Bai, who is also an author of children's books.